READING BETWEEN THE LINES

reading-between-lines-secretary-level-reshuffle-making-and-breaking-of-myths

Reading between lines: Secretary level reshuffle, making and breaking of myths

The NaMo administration on Akshay-Tritiya (April 26) effected a major administrative shake-up that shocked, surprised and perplexed one and all across the bureaucratic hierarchy.

Three-month extension to Union Health Secretary Ms Preety Sudan and appointment of Rajesh Bhushan as OSD in the Department of Health, reflected the government’s seriousness and preparedness towards fight against COVID-19.

Among all appointments and reshuffle, what has astonished the most is the appointment of Pawan Kumar Agarwal as Special Secretary, Logistics. Probably it was for the first time in the last several decades that a full-fledged secretary rank IAS officer has been appointed to a level below i.e. secretary equivalent post.

Further, A K Sharma’s appointment as  Secretary in MSME Ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari, too, is not an exception. It was widely speculated that Sharma, for obvious reasons, might be drafted as Secretary, PMO. Probably it narrates the inside story and balance of power in PMO. Sharma’s appointment also underlines that PM Modi treats his close aides in a unique manner else what would define G C Murmu’s post-retirement reward as Lt Governor of J&K. Murmu who was widely speculated to become ED chief but instead, he was frequently moved from the Department of Expenditure to DFS  and Revenue as Additional Secretary and then as Secretary, Expenditure. Nothing comes easily in the NaMo administration. In the time to come Sharma's assignment may prove to be a temporary arrangement only.

Nagendra Nath Sinha’s shift on a lateral shift basis from Border Management to the Department of Rural Development too needs to be seen from a wider perspective. Rural Development is something which is key to Modi’s model of administration bringing governance to the doorsteps of the rural households. At a time when Modi was seen losing his prospects in the run-up to 2019 elections turned out to be a historic victory due to the immense response from the Rural folks. Expectation from N N Sinha to fit into the shoes of Amarjit Sinha underlines the challenges of his uphill task that he is entrusted with.

Moving to Finance Ministry, the appointment of Tarun Bajaj has surprised none. For officers across batches and cadres, Bajaj’s appointment is being termed as a perfect choice to steer DEA. It will be interesting to see the performance of two former PMO guys in the FinMin. It is believed that after re-aligning the fiscal deficit and expenditure management, Dr T V Somanathan would continue holding the turf in FinMin to take up the unaccomplished agenda of ABP Pandey next year.

Shifting Ravi Mittal from I&B to Sports vice Radheshyam Julania is another decision that drew everyone’s attention. It unravels two important aspects. First, Julania was reportedly never satisfied with his portfolio at the Centre and had been exploring an avenue for a satisfying assignment back in the cadre. Secondly, connect between Julania and the concerned minister was missing.

In view of the additional charge of I&B to Amit Khare, if one has a close look at the frequent additions to Khare’s responsibility he appears to be in the role of Man Friday which signifies the government’s trust in his administrative skill and art of tight-rope walk.

Food and Public Distribution Secretary Ravi Kant, who once forayed into Secretaryship in Shipping ministry, has finally landed at the Department of Ex-Serviceman Welfare. Insiders in the shipping sector term it a poetic justice. Amid COVID-19 crises and the importance of food and public distribution his departure from the department makes people curious.  

Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, presently in the cadre, replacing Anand Kumar as Secretary MNRE appears more of giving Chaturvedi a suitable job whereas Kumar moving to Culture ministry fulfills a long-pending gap. It may be recalled that Chaturvedi was once JS, PMO  in Manmohan Singh’s tenure. Similarly Sudhanshu Panday, Mrs Leena Nandan, and Rameshwar Prasad Gupta too have got their dues with reasonable assignments of Food and Public Distribution, Consumer Affairs and Environment and Forests and Climate Change respectively.

Ajay Tirkey as Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and CBSE Chairperson Mrs Anita Karwal as Secretary School Education were among a few fortunate to be posted in the rank and pay of Secretary in their own ministries. It appeared that the School Education Secretary post was kept vacant for several months for Mrs Karwal only. Contrary to these two postings it was earlier speculated that MSME DC Ram Mohan Mishra too might be given posting in his own ministry which did not happen.

Secretary-level postings which were discussed in the bureaucratic circle the most include MoRTH Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan as Shipping Secretary; EO Pradeep Kumar Tripathy as Steel Secretary; VC DDA Tarun Kapoor as Secretary Petroleum; Giridhar Aramane as Secretary Road Transport and Highways. 

Handing over the crucially important department (i.e. Corporate Affairs) held by an Odisha cadre officer Injeti Sriniwas to another Odisha cadre officer Rajesh Verma too offers something to decipher.

Last but not least! It may be observed that Mrs Jyoti Arora (IAS:1987:HY) was given Special Secretary whereas her batchmates B Anand (IAS:1987:TN) and Mrs Neel Kamal Darbari (IAS:1987:RJ)  given Secretary rank. Six batchmates from freshly empanelled batch i.e. 1988 namely; Bidyut Bihari Swain (IAS:1988:GJ), Apurva Chandra (IAS:1988:MH), Ali Raza Rizwi (IAS:1988:HP), Praveen Kumar Srivastava (IAS:1988:AM), Arvind Singh (IAS:1988:MH), Indevar Pandey (IAS:1988:WB); were elevated in the rank of Special Secretary.

One more name in the list which draws attention uniquely is Rajiv Bansal (IAS:1988:NL) which has resemblance with Ravi Mittal (IAS:1986:BH) albeit a little differently. One may recall that before becoming I&B Secretary Ravi Mittal served in DFS (Banking) as Special Secretary and was supposed for a posting as Secretary, DFS. A month before Rajiv Kumar was to retire in February 2020 Mittal was shifted as I&B Secretary clearing the deck for Debashish Panda. Similarly, Bansal too was shifted from Petroleum to Air India as CMD a few weeks before his empanelment as Secretary and subsequently a little earlier to the retirement of Petroleum Secretary M M Kutty. Still Bansal has robust reasons to stay cheered up is that the NaMo administration has send out a good signal by promoting him in the rank and pay of Secretary, Government of India. And why not if he has three complete years in service to move upwardly.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

(CLICK FOR COMPLETE LIST)

27 Apr 2020
power-corridors-perplexed-over-swami’s-tweet:-who-dominates-pmo-

Power corridors perplexed over Swami’s tweet: Who dominates PMO?

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has always something unique and witty to offer via his inimitable tweets. As usual, his tweet today reads “The PMO today is dominated by officials who have an anti-Hindutva mind-set. Some in PMO are in touch with Sharad Pawar and his daughter. The targeting of officials who are patriotic and want to prosecute the corrupt has begun.”

People in power corridors are perplexed about the officials Swami is referring to in this tweet that has gone viral. Highly-placed sources confide that raising doubts over officials in PMO is something tactful and ingenious as in the NaMo regime no one other than the PM Modi himself calls the shots. The irrepressible veteran politician is probably hinting at diluting of Hindutva ideology and growing proximity of Modi with old warhorse Sharad Pawar.

02 Mar 2020
reading-between-lines-secretary-level-reshuffle-making-and-breaking-of-myths

Reading between lines: Secretary level reshuffle, making and breaking of myths

By Rakesh Ranjan 27 Apr 2020

The NaMo administration on Akshay-Tritiya (April 26) effected a major administrative shake-up that shocked, surprised and perplexed one and all across the bureaucratic hierarchy.

Three-month extension to Union Health Secretary Ms Preety Sudan and appointment of Rajesh Bhushan as OSD in the Department of Health, reflected the government’s seriousness and preparedness towards fight against COVID-19.

Among all appointments and reshuffle, what has astonished the most is the appointment of Pawan Kumar Agarwal as Special Secretary, Logistics. Probably it was for the first time in the last several decades that a full-fledged secretary rank IAS officer has been appointed to a level below i.e. secretary equivalent post.

Further, A K Sharma’s appointment as  Secretary in MSME Ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari, too, is not an exception. It was widely speculated that Sharma, for obvious reasons, might be drafted as Secretary, PMO. Probably it narrates the inside story and balance of power in PMO. Sharma’s appointment also underlines that PM Modi treats his close aides in a unique manner else what would define G C Murmu’s post-retirement reward as Lt Governor of J&K. Murmu who was widely speculated to become ED chief but instead, he was frequently moved from the Department of Expenditure to DFS  and Revenue as Additional Secretary and then as Secretary, Expenditure. Nothing comes easily in the NaMo administration. In the time to come Sharma's assignment may prove to be a temporary arrangement only.

Nagendra Nath Sinha’s shift on a lateral shift basis from Border Management to the Department of Rural Development too needs to be seen from a wider perspective. Rural Development is something which is key to Modi’s model of administration bringing governance to the doorsteps of the rural households. At a time when Modi was seen losing his prospects in the run-up to 2019 elections turned out to be a historic victory due to the immense response from the Rural folks. Expectation from N N Sinha to fit into the shoes of Amarjit Sinha underlines the challenges of his uphill task that he is entrusted with.

Moving to Finance Ministry, the appointment of Tarun Bajaj has surprised none. For officers across batches and cadres, Bajaj’s appointment is being termed as a perfect choice to steer DEA. It will be interesting to see the performance of two former PMO guys in the FinMin. It is believed that after re-aligning the fiscal deficit and expenditure management, Dr T V Somanathan would continue holding the turf in FinMin to take up the unaccomplished agenda of ABP Pandey next year.

Shifting Ravi Mittal from I&B to Sports vice Radheshyam Julania is another decision that drew everyone’s attention. It unravels two important aspects. First, Julania was reportedly never satisfied with his portfolio at the Centre and had been exploring an avenue for a satisfying assignment back in the cadre. Secondly, connect between Julania and the concerned minister was missing.

In view of the additional charge of I&B to Amit Khare, if one has a close look at the frequent additions to Khare’s responsibility he appears to be in the role of Man Friday which signifies the government’s trust in his administrative skill and art of tight-rope walk.

Food and Public Distribution Secretary Ravi Kant, who once forayed into Secretaryship in Shipping ministry, has finally landed at the Department of Ex-Serviceman Welfare. Insiders in the shipping sector term it a poetic justice. Amid COVID-19 crises and the importance of food and public distribution his departure from the department makes people curious.  

Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, presently in the cadre, replacing Anand Kumar as Secretary MNRE appears more of giving Chaturvedi a suitable job whereas Kumar moving to Culture ministry fulfills a long-pending gap. It may be recalled that Chaturvedi was once JS, PMO  in Manmohan Singh’s tenure. Similarly Sudhanshu Panday, Mrs Leena Nandan, and Rameshwar Prasad Gupta too have got their dues with reasonable assignments of Food and Public Distribution, Consumer Affairs and Environment and Forests and Climate Change respectively.

Ajay Tirkey as Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and CBSE Chairperson Mrs Anita Karwal as Secretary School Education were among a few fortunate to be posted in the rank and pay of Secretary in their own ministries. It appeared that the School Education Secretary post was kept vacant for several months for Mrs Karwal only. Contrary to these two postings it was earlier speculated that MSME DC Ram Mohan Mishra too might be given posting in his own ministry which did not happen.

Secretary-level postings which were discussed in the bureaucratic circle the most include MoRTH Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan as Shipping Secretary; EO Pradeep Kumar Tripathy as Steel Secretary; VC DDA Tarun Kapoor as Secretary Petroleum; Giridhar Aramane as Secretary Road Transport and Highways. 

Handing over the crucially important department (i.e. Corporate Affairs) held by an Odisha cadre officer Injeti Sriniwas to another Odisha cadre officer Rajesh Verma too offers something to decipher.

Last but not least! It may be observed that Mrs Jyoti Arora (IAS:1987:HY) was given Special Secretary whereas her batchmates B Anand (IAS:1987:TN) and Mrs Neel Kamal Darbari (IAS:1987:RJ)  given Secretary rank. Six batchmates from freshly empanelled batch i.e. 1988 namely; Bidyut Bihari Swain (IAS:1988:GJ), Apurva Chandra (IAS:1988:MH), Ali Raza Rizwi (IAS:1988:HP), Praveen Kumar Srivastava (IAS:1988:AM), Arvind Singh (IAS:1988:MH), Indevar Pandey (IAS:1988:WB); were elevated in the rank of Special Secretary.

One more name in the list which draws attention uniquely is Rajiv Bansal (IAS:1988:NL) which has resemblance with Ravi Mittal (IAS:1986:BH) albeit a little differently. One may recall that before becoming I&B Secretary Ravi Mittal served in DFS (Banking) as Special Secretary and was supposed for a posting as Secretary, DFS. A month before Rajiv Kumar was to retire in February 2020 Mittal was shifted as I&B Secretary clearing the deck for Debashish Panda. Similarly, Bansal too was shifted from Petroleum to Air India as CMD a few weeks before his empanelment as Secretary and subsequently a little earlier to the retirement of Petroleum Secretary M M Kutty. Still Bansal has robust reasons to stay cheered up is that the NaMo administration has send out a good signal by promoting him in the rank and pay of Secretary, Government of India. And why not if he has three complete years in service to move upwardly.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

(CLICK FOR COMPLETE LIST)

power-corridors-perplexed-over-swami’s-tweet:-who-dominates-pmo-

Power corridors perplexed over Swami’s tweet: Who dominates PMO?

By IndianMandarins 02 Mar 2020

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has always something unique and witty to offer via his inimitable tweets. As usual, his tweet today reads “The PMO today is dominated by officials who have an anti-Hindutva mind-set. Some in PMO are in touch with Sharad Pawar and his daughter. The targeting of officials who are patriotic and want to prosecute the corrupt has begun.”

People in power corridors are perplexed about the officials Swami is referring to in this tweet that has gone viral. Highly-placed sources confide that raising doubts over officials in PMO is something tactful and ingenious as in the NaMo regime no one other than the PM Modi himself calls the shots. The irrepressible veteran politician is probably hinting at diluting of Hindutva ideology and growing proximity of Modi with old warhorse Sharad Pawar.

pmo:-top-level-changes-offer-a-lot-to-read-between-lines

PMO: Top level changes offer a lot to read between lines

By IndianMandarins 31 Aug 2019

Nripendra Mishra’s offer to quit as PS to PM and subsequent appointment of P K Sinha (Retd IAS:1977:UP) as OSD in PMO offers a lot to read between the lines.

 

The first and the foremost thing expected ahead would be the announcement of Dr P K Mishra’s elevation as Principal Secretary to the PM. P K Sinha may be announced by the first week of September as Additional Private Secretary to the PM.

 

Earlier, Senior Mishra (Nripendra Mishra) played a wide role in PMO and handand the centre-state issues and project coordination whereas junior Mishra was considered the sole authority on personnel matters.

 

In the new scenario senior P K (Dr PK Misra) may continue with personnel issues whereas junior P K (P K Sinha) will be in the role of senior Mishra. It is apprehended that P K Sinha may be given the status of MoS and not the cabinet rank. Sinha as Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha already holds MoS rank.  

 

Power corridors are abuzz that Nripendra Mishra may be either made Lieutenant Governor of Delhi or Governor of any state.

 

Critics of Modi take this development as ouster of Nripendra Mishra but they fail to understand that Modi continued reposing his faith on him throughout his first term and even during the initial months on Modi 2.0.

 

One shouldn’t forget that the PM had set the age limit (75 yrs) for such high offices which Nripendra Mishra has already completed. Apparently Nripendra Mishra has a great grasp over public policy and administration but the same could also be attributed to P K Sinha who has been spearheading PM’s several pupulistic socio-economic programs during his tenure as Cabinet Secretary.

 

Further, having set the target of $5 trillion economy, the PM needs to infuse new and fresh approach in the top management. Probably the emerging scenario would have prompted PM for few changes at the top.

 

In the power corridors, it was often discussed that by February 2020 Rajiv Kumar (IAS:1984:JH) would be assigned personnel matters which at present is with Dr P K Mishra in the PMO but it appears to have been ruled out for now at least.

 

Indianmandarins often underlines that element of surprise and unpredictability have been the hallmark of NaMo administration. Modi’s critic will fail again to speculate the next assignment for Nripendra Mishra.

signals-from-the-latest-secretaries'-reshuffle;-reading-between-the-lines

Signals from the latest secretaries' reshuffle; Reading between the lines

By IndianMandarins 25 Jul 2019

The appointment of cheerful, straightforward Ajay Bhalla (IAS:1984:AM) as OSD in MHA, almost five weeks before the completion of the term of Rajiv Gauba (the outgoing Home Secretary), is open to interesting interpretations. A section of officials believe that Gauba may be moved as OSD in Cabinet Secretary - maybe immediately after the Independence Day if not before. The reasoning is that the extended tenure of P K Sinha as Cabinet Secretary will end on September 12, 2019. And the government is looking for his replacement. So will Gauba replace Sinha? In case he misses the bus then certainly its all for 1983 batch IAS. Then who else?

Speculations about Gauba replacing Sinha have also gathered strength because if Bhalla's appointment as MHA OSD was only a matter of preplanning, it should have been done also in the case of the Defense Ministry where secretary Mitra will complete his term on August 23, 2019, a week before Gauba.

It is pointed out that Bhalla if promoted as Home Secretary, may be the ideal choice for the post. He has been an integral part of the NDA government’s plan to supply round-the-clock power to all. Having worked under the former Union Home Secretary like Raj Kumar Singh has helped Bhalla evolve certain traits to tackle critically-important issues in a mission mode. He may add to the strength of Amit Shah in handling issues in conflict areas, including J&K, and Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh. He may have a fixed two-year tenure as home secretary.

Further, following the exit of S C Garg (IAS:1983:RJ) from the FinMin to the Ministry of Power, speculations have triggered off as to who will be designated the next Finance Secretary. Rajiv Kumar ((DFS) or Ajay Bhushan Pandey (Dept of Revenue)? Of four secretaries in the FinMin, two each are from 1984 and 1985 batch respectively. Certainly it will follow seniority list of the batch. 

One of the most striking features of the latest reshuffle is by far the appointment of Mrs. Anuradha Mitra (IP&TA&FS:1982) as Secretary, Department of Official Language. Its importance lies in its future implication. Following this precedent, non-IAS officers may be drafted as Secretaries in Govt of India - a common fortress of IAS officers.

Of twelve appointments, Gujarat and West Bengal have something to cheer about in terms of representation in Govt of India.

The NaMo administration appears to have also sent out strong signals about rewarding efficient officers by appointing Atanu Chakraborty (IAS:1985: GJ) as Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs vice S C Garg. Garg who is shifted to the Ministry of Power to work under the seasoned former bureaucrat and former Union Home Secretary R K Singh may not only enjoy the conducive work atmosphere under Singh but will have ample opportunity to resolve the challenged facing the electricity sector.

The latest reshuffle has also brought five IAS officers from states as Secretary in Govt of India. They are Anil Kumar Khachi (IAS:1986: HP) as Secretary DIPAM; R S Shukla (IAS:1986:WB) as Secretary Parliamentary Affairs; G V Venugopala Sarma (IAS:1986:OR) as Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA); Ravi Capoor (IAS:1986:AM) as Secretary, Ministry of Textiles; and P D Vaghela (IAS:1986:GJ) as Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals.

reading-between-the-lines:-secretary-level-reshuffle-says-a-lot

Reading between the lines: Secretary level reshuffle says a lot

By IndianMandarins 04 Mar 2019

Even though it was a Sunday (03 March) several senior bureaucrats expected a big reshuffle at Secretary level. Ahead of LS polls and Electoral Code of Conduct a series of appointment and posting, including the posting of 1990 batch of IAS, is expected this week.

 

The reshuffle which effected last night had lot of things to say. The foremost thing which needs to be underlined is that posting of 1986 batch of IAS officers finally began with the appointment of Ms Rajni Sekhri Sibal (IAS:1986:HY) as the first ever Secretary of Department of Fisheries recently carved from the Department of Animal Husbandary, Dairying & Fisheries.

 

The 1986 batch was empanelled on 19 July 2018 to hold Secretary level post and was waiting endlessly for posting.

 

Further, re-designation of Y S Mathur as Special Secretary (NITI) indicated that 1986 batch of IAS officers (empanelled as Secretary and Secretary equivalent) may be given Special Secretary scale this week.

 

The reshuffle was further underlined by the appointment of three OSDs (Secretary-in-waiting) in Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Department of Women & Child Development. R Buhril (IAS:1984:TN) will take over from A K Singh (IAS:1984:UP) as Secretary, Land Resources; Sanjeev Ranjan (IAS:1985:TR) will take over from Y S Malik (IAS:1983:HY) as Secretary, Road Transport & Highways and Rabindra Panwar (IAS:1985:BH) will be taking over from Rakesh Srivastava (IAS:1981:RJ) as Secretary, Women & Child Development. A K Singh, Y S Malik and Rakesh Srivastava are retiring this month end.

 

Further, Braj Raj Sharma (IAS:1984:JK) came out of unending uncertainty with the appointment (in-situ) as Secretary, Border Management (MHA). His posting was in a fix for long as he was serving as Special Secretary, Border Management.

 

Nagendra Nath Sinha (IAS:1987:JH) became new Chairman of NHAI with the additional charge of MD, NHIDCL leaving behind a question as who would be next MD, NHIDCL (an Additional Secretary level post).

 

Most surprising one was P V Ramesh Babu’s (IAS:1985:AP) appointment as DG, National Archives which left behind several curious questions over the reason of his shifting and also that who would be his successor as CMD, Rural Electrification Corporation. Ramesh Babu is retiring July this year.

 

What appears to be worth underlining is that the NaMo administration, on 20 February, announced Dr Dinesh Arora (IAS:2002:KL) as ad-hoc Private Secretary first and later cleared the appointment of Rakesh Kumar Vats (IAS:1986:WB) as Secretary General, Medical Council of India. 

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